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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Mayors, student contest winners recognized at Utah Clean Cities event

Oct 17, 2018 10:32AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Eight cities were recognized Sept. 18 for their idle-free efforts. L to R, back row: Mayor Mike Peterson of Cottonwood Heights; Vicki Bennett, director of sustainability, Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office; Zach Robinson of Sandy City Council; Mayor Rob Dahle of Holladay; Luke Carlton, city manager for Park City. Front row: Mayor D. Blair Camp of Murray; Dr. Laura Nelson, energy adviser, Governor’s Office of Energy Development. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

“It’s so very important for our citizens to understand the impact of idling on their children,” said Diane Turner, council chair of Murray. Murray and other cities were recognized Sept. 18 for idle-free initiatives. The 11th annual event also showcased winners from this year’s student poster contest. 

Eight Utah cities were recognized on Sep. 18 by the governor’s office at an event held at the City and County Building in Salt Lake City. The event was the 11th annual Idle-Free Governor’s Declaration. Seventy-one Utah cities have committed to put idle-free practices into effect. The eight cities recognized for their clean air efforts were Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Holladay, Logan, Murray, Park City, Salt Lake City and Sandy.

The event also highlighted a poster contest for students in the Cache Valley area. The contest, sponsored by Prof. Roslynn Brain McCann and Ed Stafford of Utah State University, encouraged students to make posters with idle free and clean air themes. 

This year’s poster contest garnered 550 entries. “The contest engages students who are just learning to drive, so it’s a great opportunity for education,” said McCann. “We gave those who participated a post evaluation, and all of them reported improved understanding of idle-free practices.”  

The contest also gave them an outlet to practice marketing skills. Entries came from art, business and environmental science classes. McCann hopes the contest will be available to more school districts in the future, and urges schools to reach out to her at [email protected] if they want more information. 

Other speakers at the event included Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Dr. Laura Nelson of the Governor’s Energy Office, Thom Carter of UCAIR, Representative Patrice Arent of the bipartisan Utah Clean Air Caucus, Steve Bergstrom of Intermountain Healthcare and McCann. 

Intermountain Healthcare’s representative said they have 750 fleet vehicles that do 12 million miles annually. “Idling is costly because idling equals zero miles per gallon,” Bergstrom said.  With improved monitoring and education, some numbers have improved. “Where home care was idling their vehicles a total of 120 hours per month, now they are down to 45 hours per month. We see the effects of poor air quality every day in the patients we treat, and would rather not have to be treating the results of bad air,” said Bergstrom.

Mayors who were recognized were quick to give their constituents the credit for clean air efforts. 

“I think the idle-free ordinance sends a message that every individual has a part to play and it can’t just be someone else’s problem. You can be a part of the solution. For example, we have a mom here in the Holladay area, Crystal Bruner Harris, who has started idle-free events at schools,” said Mayor Rob Dahle. (See Holladay Journal article on Crystal Bruner Harris, “Clean Air Crusader.”) 

Murray Mayor D. Blair Camp also recognized a dedicated member of his community. “We have a very tenacious council member, Diane Turner, who made a promise when she was running for council that she would push through an ordinance on idle free. She has really raised the awareness of other council members and the community. That’s what it’s really all about — awareness,” said Camp. 

The mayors also put emphasis on children as the leaders for this issue. “The real impetus for us came from our residents,” said Mayor Mike Peterson of Cottonwood Heights. “They approached us. We had several groups of young students come to city council meetings and say to us, ‘Hey, this is what we want to see happen.’ That’s why we jumped on board.” 

The mayors agreed that when you educate kids they will enforce it with their parents. Demonstrated in a winning poster from 2015 by then Logan High student Hailey Dennis. On a blue background, there is a single image of a child in a bold pose. The caption reads, “My mom idles less than your mom!” 

Arent’s comments echoed this idea. “We want to make idling as socially unacceptable as throwing litter out the car window. Education has always been a big part of what we are working on. This whole effort is about education, and teaching the public about idling: why it’s not good for their health, their pocketbook, or their car,” Arent said. “The air we breathe is not Republican air, it’s not Democratic air. It’s everyone’s air.”

The past winners of the contest can be seen online at